On Sunday 16 June, President Uhuru Kenyatta told a religious gathering at a stadium in Nairobi: “When they see me remain silent, they should not think they are threatening me. I will flush them out from where they are.”
In the US alone, there are more than 200,000 open job offers for developers; but only 30,000 computer science majors graduate there each year.
“With our population, we are going sort that out for you!” jokes Bosun Tijani, co-founder of Lagos’s Co-Creation Hub in Yaba, speaking at a Franco-African business forum in July. France has since announced a $76m start-up fund for African countries – which will have training and co-operation components, and is part of a broader Digital Africa initiative.
And Tijani has a point: Nigerian coders are everywhere. The product of one of Nigeria’s best-known start-ups, Andela, is developers.
After a well-publicised cash injection from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Andela has recently signed a deal to build a pan-African development hub in Rwanda to pump out a new generation of coders for the outsourced labour pools of the future: straddled across European time zones, able to work overnight for the US market and with large populations of French and English speakers.
There is, of course, competition. But also demand to meet. “You have Portugal; you have Bulgaria. You have a lot of players in the coding space, but Nigeria will certainly see robust growth,” says Aubrey Hruby, chief executive of the Africa Expert Network. “Andela has priced up the cost of coding talent so much that I know Nigerian firms that hire outside because they can get cheaper coders,” she says.
This article first appeared in the December 2018 print edition of The Africa Report magazine